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Quality Grades

Canada's commitment to quality is of paramount importance and is the reason Canada has established such stringent grading standards for beef.

A carcass qualifying for one of Canada's quality grades must satisfy each of the minimum requirements. That is, no deficiency can be offset by superiority in another trait.

The table below provides a direct comparison of only the marbling levels between Canadian and the United States grading systems as there is no direct comparison of the other quality characteristics.

Canadian Grading System U.S. Grading System
Canada Prime USDA Prime
Canada AAA USDA Choice
Canada AA USDA Select*
Canada A USDA Standard

* USDA Select products could be a combination of Canada A and Canada AA graded product.

Grade Classification

Canada has minimum requirements for muscling, meat colour, fat colour, fat cover in each of its four quality grades. This provides consumers with excellent consistency of product.



Canada's quality grades for beef are Canada Prime, Canada AAA, Canada AA and Canada A. Attributes evaluated include:
  • maturity
  • meat colour
  • sex
  • fat colour
  • carcass muscling
  • fat coverage and texture
  • meat texture
  • marbling level based on USDA marbling scores

Standards as of May 2010

Canadian Beef Grading System

Minimum Muscling Requirement

The Canadian system automatically eliminates all carcasses with poor muscling from the four high quality grades.

Minimum Texture Requirement

The Canadian system automatically eliminates all carcasses with less than firm texture from the four high quality grades.

Go to the Canadian Beef Grading Agency for more information at